'The great apostle of physical culture' arrives in Brisbane (1902)
In October 1902, Brisbane theatre audiences were treated to two world-renowned acts. One was opera singer Nellie Melba, the other the man referred to as the father of modern bodybuilding, Eugen Sandow. Born Friedrich Muller in Prussia, Sandow had been touring Australia since July and garnering a great deal of publicity.
On October 27, as the "great apostle of physical culture" arrived at Central Station, he was greeted by a crowd of fans, including excited members of the Brisbane Gymnasium Club. "You are doubtless tired after your long journey," suggested one journalist, to which the musclar Sandow replied: "No, I never tire."
Sandow certainly needed stamina for his short but jam-packed visit to Brisbane. Along with his shows at the Theatre Royal over five nights and two matinees, the strongman was given a public reception at the Town Hall, attended a fete in aid of the Lady Lamington and Sick Children's Hospitals, made a special visit to the Brisbane Gymnasium, and attended a demonstration of boomerang throwing at the City Botanic Gardens.
Apart from his entertainment value, Sandow was promoting his book, Strength and How To Obtain It, and his patented fitness equipment: spring-grip dumbbells and the "obesity reducer".
A private demonstration at the Theatre Royal was given for medical professionals and leading Brisbane citizens, including Queensland's then chief justice and former premier Sir Samuel Griffith.
Film footage of Sandow from the Library of Congress
- The gospel of strength according to Sandow : a series of talks on the Sandow system of physical culture, by its founder (1902). Digitised from the National Library of Australia collection
- Instructions for the use of Sandow's spring grip dumb-bells (published between 1900 and 1909). Digitised from the National Library of Australia collection.
- Strength and how to obtain it by Eugen Sandow. Available through the Internet Archive.